WHITE, Robert (-d. by.1623), of Weymouth, Dorset

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1604 - 9 June 1610

Family and Education

m. Catherine, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. d. bet. 1619 and 1623.1

Offices Held

?Collector of petty customs, Weymouth 1579,2 capt. militia ft. 1598,3 alderman by 1604-d.,4 mayor 1604-5,5 bailiff 1616-17, 1618-19, ?1621-2;6 commr. piracy, Dorset 1605.7


The White family, which was resident in Weymouth by the mid-sixteenth century, frequently used the Christian name Robert, and this Member cannot always be distinguished from his namesakes.8 Little is known of his early career, though he may have been the man of that name who served as a local customs collector in 1579. He contributed ships to the fleets that fought the Spanish Armada in 1588 and raided Cadiz in 1596. During that same period he apparently acquired over £7,000 through privateering.9 He and his son John were accused of piracy in 1596, but the charge was quashed two years later at the request of the vice admiral of Dorset, (Sir) Carew Ralegh*.10 Further trouble followed in 1602, when White was summoned to London for refusing to help transport the 11th Lord Zouche to Guernsey.11 Evidently now one of Weymouth’s wealthiest inhabitants, he was assessed for the 1601 subsidy at £5 in land, while in about 1605 he advanced £30 to the Crown as a Privy Seal loan.12

White was an alderman of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis by 1604, when he was returned to Parliament for the borough, his sons Robert and John both participating in the election. He is not known to have spoken in the Commons, and was named to the committees for just two bills, one to moderate the price of dairy produce, and the other to confirm the grant of a royal manor in Gloucestershire (4 Apr. and 15 Dec. 1606).13 By mid-1610 he was deemed unfit to attend Parliament ‘by reason of his age and infirmities’, and was permitted to resign his seat. The writ for the consequent by-election was issued on 9 June.14

Despite this episode of physical frailty, White remained an active figure in Weymouth’s corporation for around another decade, serving as bailiff at least twice. He was still alive in April 1619, when his son-in-law John Roy* mentioned him in his will, but was dead by 1623, when his name was omitted from the heralds’ official list of aldermen. No will or administration grant for him has been found.15 His son John became mayor of Weymouth in 1608, while Robert junior was a prominent local figure until his death in 1633. However, no further members of this family are known to have entered Parliament.16

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. PROB 11/124, ff. 263v-4; 11/134, ff. 88-9; Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 2.
  • 2. H.J. Moule, Docs. of Bor. of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, 27.
  • 3. Som. and Dorset N and Q, ii. 314.
  • 4. C219/35/1/115.
  • 5. HCA 13/37, f. 174v.
  • 6. Moule, 53; Dorset RO, Weymouth corp. order bk., ff. 43, 72.
  • 7. C181/1, f. 114v.
  • 8. Dorset Tudor Subsidies ed. T.L. Stoate, 105.
  • 9. K.R. Andrews, ‘Econ. Aspects of Elizabethan Privateering’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1951), pp. 296, 368; State Pprs. Relating to Defeat of Spanish Armada ed. J.K. Laughton, ii. 329; APC, 1596-7, p. 267.
  • 10. HCA 14/33/196, 213.
  • 11. HMC Hatfield, xii. 74-5, 81.
  • 12. E179/274/20; Som. and Dorset N and Q, xiii. 106.
  • 13. C219/35/1/115; CJ, i. 293b, 330b.
  • 14. SP14/55/20; C219/35/1/120.
  • 15. PROB 11/134, f. 88; Vis. Dorset, 2.
  • 16. SP14/45/95; William Whiteway of Dorchester: his Diary 1618-35 (Dorset Rec. Soc. xii), 133.